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George Fok: Passing Through

Aug 5, 2021–Jan 2, 2022

George Fok’s Passing Through is an immersive video work celebrating Leonard Cohen’s singular voice, influential music, charismatic persona, and inimitable stage presence. Drawing on a vast archive of audiovisual material, Fok pays tribute to Cohen’s monumental five-decade career through a collage of collective memories, concert footage, and emotions that have enchanted generations of fans around the world. Presented as a seamless, hour-long video presentation, Passing Through invites visitors to explore Cohen’s life and legacy as a mash-up concert, a composite portrait of the artist, and an evocative reflection on his relationship with God, his fans, and himself.

Passing Through recalls and reconstructs various pivotal stages in Cohen’s life—following him from his early years in bohemian 1960s Montréal to his later life and career when he was recognized as a global cultural icon. It also offers an account of Cohen’s deep connection to and curiosity around spirituality and religion, which permeated his music, poetry, and literature—all of which were often punctured by scripture.

These facets of Cohen’s life unfold through a non-linear, immersive experience. In Fok’s words: “Within the immersive setting of the video installation, we witness Cohen’s larger-than-life presence during his journey through life: the stardom of a young, charismatic, and occasionally melancholic Cohen; his passion and youthful desire for love; and his longing for grace and mercy as he aged. The footage ranges from his reluctantly stoic stage presence during the 1990s and, in sharp contrast, to his exalted performances during tours from 2008–2015 and paradoxically, his detached, subtle and yet poignant criticism of politics. As Cohen was approaching the end of his spiritual journey, confronted by mortality, we see him addressing the audience gracefully of his coming to terms with life."

Passing Through (2017) was originally commissioned by the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MAC) for the large-scale touring exhibition Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything, curated by John Zeppetelli and Victor Shiffman. It is presented at The CJM in the context of the exhibition series Experience Leonard Cohen, organized at The Contemporary Jewish Museum (The CJM) by Heidi Rabben, Senior Curator, and Justin Limoges, Director of Exhibitions.

Part of the exhibition series Experience Leonard Cohen

Passing Through (2017) was originally commissioned by the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MAC) for the large-scale touring exhibition Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything, curated by John Zeppetelli and Victor Shiffman. It is presented at The CJM in the context of the exhibition series Experience Leonard Cohen, organized at The Contemporary Jewish Museum (The CJM) by Heidi Rabben, Senior Curator, and Justin Limoges, Director of Exhibitions.

Tickets

This exhibition is included in your general admission ticket. Become a Member to receive free admission. All visitors are required to book their timed tickets online in advance to facilitate a contactless visit to The Museum.

Exhibition Preview
About the Artist
George Fok

George Fok (b. 1969,  Hong Kong) is a new media artist with a cross-disciplinary practice. Based in Montreal, his body of work explores the hybrids of immersive experience, speculative fiction, poetry films, performance, and other digital-born narrative and avant-garde experiments, with intentions of re-enchanting viewers with the homogenization and mundaneness of the global condition of modernity. Fok’s work has appeared in museums and immersive shows as well as documentary and Hollywood films.

Fok’s work has exhibited in global art institutions such as the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, GL Strand & Nikolaj Kunsthal in Copenhagen, and The Jewish Museum of New York.

In pursuit of his cross-disciplinary practice, Fok frequently collaborates with other emerging and established talents such as choreographers, musicians, and fashion designers. For the past decade, he's been the creative director of Phi Centre, an arts and culture organization in Montreal.

About Experience Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen’s words gave voice to the human condition, in all of its grace and imperfection—and to this day, they continue to inspire generations of artists, musicians, and writers. This inspiration is at the heart of Experience Leonard Cohen: a series of four solo exhibitions that present immersive and intimate artworks by contemporary artists George Fok, Judy Chicago, Candice Breitz, and Marshall Trammell, all inspired by the life and work of Leonard Cohen (1934–2016), the influential musician, man of letters, and global icon from Montréal, Canada.

A black-and-white photo of Leonard Cohen sitting on a train, holding an open book

Courtesy Old Ideas, LLC

Supporters

Lead sponsorship of Experience Leonard Cohen is generously provided by Craig Newmark Philanthropies.

The Contemporary Jewish Museum (The CJM) thanks Maribelle and Stephen Leavitt, The Bernard Osher Foundation, Suzanne and Elliott Felson, the John Pritzker Family Fund, the Irving and Eleanor Jaffe Foundation, Taube Philanthropies, Kendra and Tom Kasten, Jessica Silverman, and Meyer Sound for generously supporting the exhibition. 

Media Sponsorship is provided by the San Francisco Chronicle. In-kind support is provided by Where the Buffalo Roam.

The CJM thanks the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MAC) for its support of the exhibition. Robert Kory provided invaluable assistance in the successful organization of Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything.

Image Credit

Header image: George Fok, Passing Through, 2017. Multi-channel video installation, black and white and color, sound, 56 min 15 s, looped, dimensions variable. Exhibition view of Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything presented at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, 2017–2018. Courtesy the artist. Photo: George Fok